Angela Bassett, a Best Supporting Actress nominee, admitted at the 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival that shooting 'What's Love Got to Do with It? was far more difficult on her than most people would have expected.
"We would do scenes over and over again," said the actress on Thursday night's performance of the 1993 Tina Turner biopic, recalling the process. "Those concert scenes, literally you feel like you have a sweater in your throat after performing," said the actress.
Bassett did not mince words when it came to her being directed by English filmmaker Brian Gibson. "He'd say, 'OK, let's do it again.' I was like, 'Can an actor have a moment?'
"What's Love Got to Do With It?" was one of her early collaborations with Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," who was nominated for a 2023 Academy Award.
"Every day, the day started off like, 'Oh, it's not going to work." "Oh, yeah, that's good." "Ugh, horrible costume," said Bassett.
'OK,' she continued, "And then he would come in the trailer and say, 'Let's go, let's go.' And I'd run off, my wig would be half of my head, and my makeup would be half off.' And then he would jokingly apologize.'
"Let the hair artisans do what they do. You get everything ready there." Bassett said, especially for a film that had to finish production three months before its release (which had to coincide with Turner's What's Love? Tour).
During the 38th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Angela Bassett and SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling speak on stage during the Montecito Award Ceremony.
SBIFF is sponsored by Getty Images.
Laurence Fishburne, her "Boyz N the Hood" co-star, reunited with her to play Ike Turner, who remained vigilant during the filming of the menacing musician who sexually assaulted Turner in their own recording booth. "He didn't pay attention to this female voice, but there's something about that male-male bond," said Bassett.
Bassett said five times about Fishburne's concern, even though her attitude was more like "I'll do it till we get it." "We're going to go for it. I'm going to scrape and claw like my life depends on it." That's what you'll capture. He's going like he's grabbing, I'm going like I'm dying.
When Bassett and Carter filmed the rape scene, he would say, 'What about a garter? Should we have a garter on?' After Bassett and Carter had already settled on the costume for the horrific scene, Bassett and Carter said Gibson was "not sensitive to the moment."
The actress found moments of agency in the film, changing up some of the dialogue to make it more authentic. She recalls reading early reviews around the film in magazines, and seeing the line, "We don't know what's worse. The dailies or the script." I was like, "How dare they?"
"It's not just about love, it's about love," said Bassett, who said the script for "What's Love Got to Do With It?" was constantly changing. "After this, the movie will begin with a figure coming out of the Nile River, and she has blue eyes, and she spreads these cards in front of this little girl, and she — yeah, that was the script." "People will put my name and my face together with hers after this, for good or for bad."
During the 3rd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Angela Bassett participates in the Montecito Award Ceremony.
SBIFF is sponsored by Getty Images.
The changes she and her co-stars made to many of their lines gave the script more personality, according to the actress. "A lot of it was improvised, but I think it made it better," she said.
After her breakout performance as Turner, Bassett talked previously about waiting for her phone to ring again with offers for additional roles, but she added that she needed some time to herself. “It was literally a 25-hour day,” said the star.
She said, "I'll tell you everything on me hurt," but it was like, 'Go for it. This is the last time. Slap him,' but 25, I couldn't believe it. What kind of job is this? 25 hours in a row. I couldn't speak."
Bassett said she's grateful to Durling and the SBIFF team for recognizing my dedication and my contribution to cinema. Her revelations about just her time producing "What's Love Got to Do With It?" appear to be proof that her passion for her craft is greater than we've ever imagined.